Exercise is safe, improves quality of life in patients with chronic heart failure

Regular exercise is safe for heart failure patients and may slightly lower their risk of death or hospitalization, according to results from the largest and most comprehensive clinical trial to examine the effects of exercise in chronic heart failure patients. Supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health, the study also found that heart failure patients who add regular, moderate physical activity to standard medical therapy report a higher quality of life compared to similar patients who receive medical therapy only.

Researchers with HF-ACTION (Heart Failure – A Controlled Trial Investigating Outcomes of exercise TraiNing) have published two papers in the April 8, 2009, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study was conducted at 82 centers in the United States, Canada, and France.

"Many patients and health care providers have continued to be concerned about the safety of aerobic exercise for heart failure," said NHLBI Director Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D. "With the results of this robust clinical trial, we can now reassure heart failure patients that, with appropriate medical supervision, regular aerobic exercise is not only safe but it can also improve their lives in really meaningful ways."

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